Throughout the back half of this season, this has been the most likely round 1 matchup for the Rangers. While this can change, if the season ended today this would be New York’s match-up.
Rangers’ head to head vs Pittsburgh: 3-1-0.
February 26 at Pittsburgh: 1-0 Penguins. Long story short: Tristan Jarry stood on his head and the Rangers forgot how to play offense for two periods.
March 25 at the Garden: 5-1 Rangers. New York came out FLYING, scoring three goals in the first five minutes. They stayed dominant the entire night.
March 29 at Pittsburgh: 3-2 Rangers. After falling down 1-0, the Rangers reeled off three straight goals and despite Pittsburgh’s comeback efforts, New York pulled out a win.
April 7 at the Garden: 3-0 Rangers. Pittsburgh could not do anything offensively and New York dominated the game. This was Igor Shesterkin’s fourth shutout of the season.
Deadline acquisitions: F Rikard Rakell from Anaheim.
Pittsburgh’s biggest strength: While they are good offensively, it has to be their penalty kill, which is currently third in the league with a percentage of 85.71. In all four meetings this season, the Rangers have had a hard time scoring on the power play, only scoring once in four match-ups when Chris Kreider scored the eventual game winning goal on March 29. Also, they have the experience; nobody wants to play Crosby and Malkin in the playoffs.
Pittsburgh’s biggest weakness: It might be playoff Tristan Jarry, but Pittsburgh can take a little bit, even a few games, to wake up offensively. There are times where they cannot get anything going and struggle to keep the puck in opponents’ zones, especially when Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin are not on the ice.